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Reclaimed Vase 


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Reclaimed Vase 

Written By: Natalie Friedman 


Container (1) 

For this project I used a big laundry detergent bottle. 

Salt (1) 

for mache paste 

Water (1) 

for mache paste 

Newspaper (1) 

Mixing bowl (1) 

Flour (1) 

for mache paste. You can also use white craft glue or wood glue and water. Alternately, 

you can use wallpaper or wheat paste. 

Acrylic varnish (1) 

or gesso and acrylic paint to decorate the vessel 


A while back I started noticing how many plastic containers I had in my life. And while many 
are recyclable, I thought there had to be some cool way of reusing these things too. I made 
my first vessels from tennis ball cans — they're the perfect size for storing long 
paintbrushes. Since then I've used yogurt containers, laundry detergent bottles, pill bottles, 

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Reclaimed Vase 

and food containers. It has completely changed the way I look at my recycling. Who knows, 
my next artistic masterpiece may be in there. 

Step 1 — Prepare a container. 

• Find a nice plastic container. Clean 
it and let it dry. 

Step 2 — Prepare newspaper strips. 

• Rip sections of newspaper into 
strips approximately 1/2"— 1" wide 
by 3"-5" long. You'll need a lot of 
strips. I usually rip a whole 
newspaper so I don't run out. 

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Reclaimed Vase 

Step 3 — Mix mac he paste. 

• In a bowl, mix your papier-mache 
paste. The simplest recipe is 1 part 
flour to 2 parts water with a few 
tablespoons of salt to prevent 
mold. The consistency you want is 
that of thick pancake batter. Add 
more water or flour as necessary. 

• Another simple recipe is to dilute 
white craft glue or wood glue with 
water. Use approximately 2 parts 
glue to 1 part water. 

• I also like to use wallpaper paste or 
wheat paste. Follow the directions 
on the box. These mixes usually 
have mold prevention in them, and 

I like to add a little craft glue to the 

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Reclaimed Vase 

Step 4 — Cover the container. 

• Dip a strip of newspaper into the paste to coat it, wiping off the excess with your fingers. 
Starting at the top of your container, drape your strip over the top edge so that 
approximately 2" of the strip is on the inside of the container. 

• Continue adding strips like this, all the way around the top edge of the container, 
overlapping the strips. 

• Once you've covered the top rim, add more overlapping strips to cover the whole 
container, even the bottom. This is your first layer. I usually apply each layer either 
vertically or horizontally, so I can keep track of where I have already papered. 

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Reclaimed Vase 

Step 5 — Add sculptural details (optional), 

• You can wad up pieces of 
newspaper and press them onto 
the surface to add sculptural 

• Shape the wad as the wet paper 
becomes pulp-like and is easily 

• Paste some strips over the top of 
the wad to attach it to the 

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Reclaimed Vase 

Step 6 — Reinforce the container. 

• To make your container durable, 
you'll need to add several layers of 
papier-mache. Allow some time for 
the piece to dry between layers, 
although it doesn't need to be 
completely dry to start the next 
layer. I wait until a piece is slightly 
tacky to the touch, which can take 
between 1 hour and 1 day, 
depending on the weather. The 
more layers you add, the stronger 
the piece will be. I usually do 3-6 

• After the final layer, let the piece 
dry completely. This usually takes 
a couple of days, depending on the 
weather and how much wadded 
newspaper you've used to add 

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Reclaimed Vase 

Step 7 — Finish. 

• After you've added all the layers, 
you have some choices. You can 
apply a clear coat of acrylic matte 
varnish to keep it looking like rough 
newsprint papier-mache. 

• Or you can gesso the whole 
surface, paint it with acrylic paint, 
and varnish it (Figure H). I'm sure 
there are many other possibilities. 

• Note: The papier-mache 
surfaces are not waterproof. 

If you want to put water inside, 
make sure the water doesn't come 
above the papier-mache on the 
inside rim. 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 09 . page 70. 

This document was last generated on 2012-1 1-03 01 :44:15 AM. 

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